EDITION: October - December 2013

Creating A Daily Practice

Text: Jerry Brownstein
We are lucky to be living in a time of great changes because every change brings with it the opportunity to grow. Changing circumstances give you the freedom to let go of old ways of being and believing… to find new pathways in life that will lead you to true happiness and fulfillment. A wonderfully effective way to make this type of transformation is by developing a Daily Practice that enriches all aspects of your being: Body, Mind and Soul. This can start with as little as ten minutes each morning and then grow as you become more comfortable with it. We are all unique individuals so you can create your practice to be a personalized mixture of what works for you and your lifestyle. Inner explorations are blended with more physical practices so that body, mind and spirit are all nourished on a daily basis. The goal is to feel your true inner beauty on all levels… and to bring that positive energy into every area of your life.

The one ingredient that is essential to the success of any daily practice is Meditation. Not only does it reduce stress, increase mental clarity, and strengthen your immune system, but it is also the proven path to true peace and happiness. Many people are discouraged from meditating because they feel it is too complicated and time consuming. It is true that there are forms of meditation with rigid rules about how to sit, what to think, etc., but meditation can also be simple, easy, and joyful. I recommend that you start by meditating for just five minutes each day… and do it the first thing in the morning… before you turn on your phone… before you turn on your mind with all its thoughts about the day to come.

Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed and then sit comfortably. It is not necessary to sit cross-legged or in any other special way – just make sure that your spine is straight, and you can use cushions to help you do that. Now that you are comfortable the next step is to close your eyes and concentrate on your breath. Watch your abdomen as it gently expands when you breathe in, and gently contracts as you breathe out… expanding to allow air into the lungs… contracting to ease the air out. Your breathing is always smooth and natural – never forced. As you begin to relax thoughts will come into your mind and they will try to get your attention… that is normal, and at some point you may find that you have been captured by your thoughts. When this happens don’t get frustrated or feel that you have meditated badly… there is no such thing as a bad meditation. The act of watching your thoughts and becoming aware of when they take you over is the very essence of meditation. So when this happens (and it will), just smile at the endless persistence of your ego, and gently bring your awareness back to the rhythm of your breathing… the thoughts will still be there… but you will not be giving them your attention.

Meditation calms your mind so that you are more open to receive new ways of thinking and feeling. There are two powerful practices that you can use in conjunction with meditation to help bring more peace, joy and abundance into your life: Affirmations and Visualizations. Affirmations are positive messages about ourselves and the world around us that reprogram our inner guidance. Repeating them over and over makes new connections in your subconscious mind… changing your core belief system to reflect positive values. Visualization is a creative way to envision in your mind’s eye the healthy and joyous life that you desire. It is an excellent way to use your imagination as the bridge between your old ways of thinking/being and the new ways that you are choosing to live.

Meditation and these inner explorations soothe the soul and clarify the mind, but we must not forget the body. Remember, we are holistic beings which means that our ideal is to have Mind, Body and Spirit all working in harmony. Keeping your body fit, flexible and strong is essential to maintaining this balance and to having the life you desire. There are graceful forms of exercise that can add this physical aspect to your practice. Yoga, Qi Gong, and the 5 Tibetan Rites are among the most popular and effective practices that blend physical movement with inner peace. Special Energy Exercises are a powerful way to get your body balanced and flowing in less than five minutes. Life begins with your breath, so learning how to breathe consciously is another important part of your physical and spiritual health. 

These are some of the many tools that you can use to enrich your life by including them in your daily practice, but the most important factor is your INTENTION to actually do this every day.  If you try to do too much at first you may get discouraged, so start by keeping your goal reasonable – five to ten minutes each morning. Once you have established that as a regular part of your life you can then deepen your practice by gradually adding things to it. It is best to experiment with a whole range of possible practices, and then keep the ones feel best for you. Having the intention to start and maintain a daily practice is a clear sign that you are learning to love yourself… and all good things will flow from this. •